Unfortunately for Tommy Tuberville, 85 wins in a span of 10 seasons in arguably the most difficult conference in the country wasn't good enough. Recruiting in the SEC is almost as difficult as the competition is on Saturdays, particularly with shrewd recruiters such as Florida's Urban Meyer and Alabama's Nick Saban entering the conference in recent years. Still, Tuberville was successful on the trail.
Last year, the then-Auburn coach signed Scouts Inc.'s No. 19 class. In 2007, the Tigers had the No. 7 class in the country, and they were No. 12 the previous year.
There might not have been a better SEC staff than Tuberville's when it came to evaluating talent and discovering under-the-radar type prospects who fit the team's system. The Tigers might not always have signed classes with the most blue-chip athletes under Tuberville's watch, but their classes always were composed of depth and quality prospects with high ceilings for development.
Like previous Auburn recruiting classes under Tuberville, this 2009 group is composed of talent and depth. In our opinion, many of the key players from Auburn's current recruiting class will hold tight until a successor is named.
Auburn's recruiting class is sitting just outside our top 15 despite not claiming a single ESPNU 150 prospect. The group is led by Travante Stallworth (Leesville, La.), ESPN's No. 21 overall athlete, who had only an offer from Tulsa when he committed to the Tigers this past summer. The class is filled with prospects who, like Stallworth, do not boast a plethora of BCS offers to entice them away from their commitments to Auburn at this time.
When offensive coordinator Tony Franklin was let go during the season, there was speculation that many of the players who were recruited for his spread offense would begin looking elsewhere. But that didn't happen.
We feel there will be little player movement with this solid class until a new head honcho is named. At a place like Auburn, it more than likely will be a prominent name with a proven track record for success who can add stability and help entice this large group of pledges to remain committed. Nonetheless, Auburn should act quickly in trying to replace Tuberville; recruits could get restless if a lengthy coaching search is carried on.
Whoever gets the job at Auburn will be walking into a great situation in regards to long-term recruiting. Tuberville won without signing a multitude of real difference-makers, particularly at receiver and quarterback, in his tenure. But he certainly had all the accommodations to do so at a traditionally strong program such as Auburn. The next coach will be taking over a program with good facilities and fan support, both of which could be major selling points to recruits.
Billy Tucker is a recruiting coordinator for Scouts Inc.